Hippo Manchester
September 8, 2005

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Creating the venue from antiques

Workshop gives info on turning old theaters into local art scene gold

By Michelle Saturley  

The Palace Theatre. The Capitol Center for the Arts. The Adams Memorial Opera House. What do these three venues have in common? They are all historic buildings, saved from the wrecking ball and restored to their former glory by a group of local concerned citizens.

Now, the League of Historic Theatres is coming to Concord to host a workshop on how others in the state can do it, too. A two-day intensive workshop, “Financing Historic Theatre Rehabilitation Projects,” is happening at the Holiday Inn in Concord on Wednesday, Sept. 7 and Thursday, Sept. 8. The workshop is designed to help those who are working to rescue, restore and operate historic performing arts venues to develop goals and plans that can be implemented locally.

The workshop is a professional development program of the League of Historic American Theatres, located in Baltimore, MD. The New Hampshire Main Street Center, in partnership with NH Preservation Alliance and NH Division of Historical Resources, contracted the League’s services for the session.

“Many communities throughout New Hampshire have beautiful theaters with a lot of history, but over time they were closed for a variety of reasons,” said Kathy La Plante, director of the NH Main Street Center.  “If rehabilitated, they could once again be the cultural centers and economic engines in their community. We brought this workshop to New Hampshire, so people who are interested in bringing their theaters back to life would have the tools to move these complex projects forward.

”Day one of the conference will focus on the financial planning aspect of rehabbing a theater. The session will outline the steps a group must take to draft a budget for the project, as well as line up funding from a variety of sources. Day two will lead attendees through the confusing minefield of tax credits that may help nonprofit organizations make an expensive rehab project a reality.

Executive directors, development staff, board members, volunteers and others involved with historic theater rehabilitation planning and fundraising are encouraged to attend the seminar. The information will be delivered in an interactive, easy to understand format using real-life case studies.

LaPlante says the information is valuable, whether a project is already underway or is in the initial planning stages. “It’s basically everything you need to know and then some,” she said. “It’s filled with those things you don’t know you need to ask, until you find out the hard way.”

Participants must register prior to the seminar by calling the League of Historic American Theatres at 877-627-0833. For more details on the conference visit its website at www.lhat.org.